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OCTOBER 2014

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Some of the Important Scriptures that Guide My Life

 The Scriptures including Paul’s writings are Inspired

2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

2 Peter 3:15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

 

 The Scriptures Contain Good News as Well as Bad News

John 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 Corinthians 15:3  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

John 3:36  He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

2 Corinthians 4:3  But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

 

The Scriptures produce Faith, Assurance and New Life

Romans 10:17  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1 John 5:13  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

1 Peter 1:23  Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

 

Scriptures that Should Guide that New Life

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Thessalonians 5:14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Ephesians 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Scriptures that Encourage

1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Galatians 6:9  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.    

Meditation for the week of October 5, 2014

Wouldn’t a Modern Day Miracle be Nice?

 

Luke 16:31 But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

 

The Miracles of the Lord

The Lord did unusual miracles when He was here on earth and those miracles made no difference to those who would not believe.  We don’t have miracles today unless one considers every baby conceived to be a miracle.  Oh, and we could consider every breath we take and every beat of our hearts and the ability to think and the renewal of life every spring to be miracles.  But because those things happen routinely, we tend to dismiss the fact that they are miracles because they are not “unusual” miracles. 

 

The Book that is itself a Miracle

One of the greatest miracles that we have today is a book called the Bible.  Not only was it divinely inspired, it was providentially preserved.  The Bible tells us of the coming of Christ the first time and gives detailed information about that coming—information that was written down 400 to 1500 years before the prophecies were fulfilled.  At least one of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah was given to Adam about 4000 years before Christ came, and was passed along orally from generation to generation until it was recorded in written form by Moses.

 

The Bible is different from other books.  It is actually a collection of 66 books.  Forty different authors over a period of about 1500 years left us with a book with a consistent theme.  In the Old Testament that theme is that Christ is coming and in the New Testament that theme is extended to exclaim that Christ has come as Old Testament prophets predicted.  The New Testament goes on to predict that Christ is coming again.

 

The Bible is the Christian Constitution

The Bible is to the Christian what the US constitution is to a lawyer in the US.  We need to read it and we need to heed it.  The Bible progressively reveals God to us.   When we come to the four Gospels and the epistles, we find that Christ is God and that He perfectly expresses God to us. 

 

But the miracle of the Bible is that it produces faith in God.  Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  It has always been that way.  Miracles do not generally produce saving faith although they may get people’s attention.  The rich man who ended up in eternal torments In Luke 16 wanted Lazarus to be raised from the dead to preach to his brothers so that they didn’t make the same mistake he had made.  Abraham tells him that if they won’t believe what is written in the Old Testament scriptures they won’t believe if one was raised from the dead.  The Lord proved that by raising a Lazarus from the dead in John 11.  Then, in John 12, the religious leaders wanted to put Lazarus to death because his resurrection was causing people to believe on the Lord.  Lazarus’s resurrection had gotten the attention of some of the people and they believed in or trusted the Lord, but this miracle made no difference to those whose minds were already closed. These religious leaders who wanted to destroy Lazarus and ultimately destroyed the Lord, knew the Old Testament scriptures; but they did not believe what they said they believed.  For those who did believe, the miracle got their attention, but there is no doubt that they had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah as predicted in the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

Defending and Presenting the Gospel

Over the years, I have seen the message of the Bible change the mind of open minded seekers after the truth in a miraculous way.  I realize that there is a sense in which we need to defend the Gospel.  We need to defend the truth of the Bible and those who believe that truth.  But I have found that we do our best job of defending the Gospel when we are presenting the Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can bring the person who wants to know the truth to faith in Christ. 

 

People that come to saving faith often say, “It just seems too simple.  I now know I am saved and going to heaven because the Bible says so.”  Miracles are nice but the promises of God are better.  And for those who can’t allow themselves to be confused with the facts because their minds are already made up, miracles won’t convince them.  But sometimes in a miraculous way, the reading of the Bible will.  Don’t ask me to explain that, I can’t.  But I have seen that process work time after time.

 

Meditation for the week of October 12, 2014

It is nice to Arrange so long as we let the Lord Rearrange!

 

John 10:3  “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

 

Some weeks are really frustrating.  It seems as though we are spinning our wheels and nothing is being accomplished.  Every plan goes awry and every door seems to be closed.  Sometimes it does seem like Murphy (whoever he was) had it right when he said that the light at the end of the tunnel is the light of the oncoming train.

 

Recently we had a week like that.  We had planned on taking a trip to Colorado to see our family.  For various reasons that didn’t work out.  My wife and I had not really had a vacation all year, and both of us had a cough with chest congestion that we just couldn’t seem to get over.  My cough had subsided but my wife’s was still raging fairly well, but we decided to take the weekend and do something for ourselves.  We thought about going to Iowa City and retracing some of the things we had done when we first met, but last weekend was homecoming weekend.  We figured it would be impossible to get around or find a motel room.  So that door was closed.  We finally decided to go on a trip to see the colorful fall leaves from Dubuque, Iowa to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and perhaps points further north.  There was just one problem.  We still were going to have problems finding a room since everybody and their uncle Dudley would be out looking at leaves.  Now why we decided that we wouldn’t be able to find a room in the Iowa City area but figured something would work out on our “leaf” trip, I do not know.

 

We got to Dubuque later than we intended and visited Eagle’s Point Park. We figured it would be too dark to enjoy the scenery further north on Friday night so we started wondering if we could find a room.  We got into conversation with people at the park who told us where they were staying.  So right at 6 pm I called that motel and they had just had a cancellation.  We got a room.  So that night we found a buffet out in the middle of nowhere that was too expensive and not much good, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.  The next day we spent most of our time at Guttenberg.  We ate dainties that we should not have eaten and we watched barges go through the lock.  Then we headed for Prairie du Chien.  I told my wife that we would probably not be able to find a room, but we could get home in a little over two hours if everything was full  

 

We knew that there is a little congregation of Christians there that had built a new building about 18 years ago.  We had never visited them in their new building.  We found the building on the north end of town and decided to stay for Sunday morning if we could find a room.  There was a motel about two blocks away.  I went in to see about a room and the desk clerk told me she had just had a cancellation and I could have the room.  The next person that walked in was told that they were FULL.  The next morning, we surprised this very small congregation by showing up.  A man we have known for years wanted to take us out for dinner and another family wanted us to come for supper.  We wanted to go to Gays Mills in between so we agreed to those arrangements.  We had supper with our host family that evening and found out that they had his mother in an apartment that was built on to the house for her.  Since she wasn’t feeling well, she didn’t eat with us, but we went to her apartment to visit her and see the apartment after supper.  While we were there she slumped over in her chair and became incoherent.  He left arm was unresponsive.  My wife, the nurse, checked her and was convinced she was having a stroke.  The ambulance was called and she was given medical attention within the three hour window of opportunity for breaking up blood clots and keeping the stroke paralysis from being permanent. 

 

Now why am I meditating on this now that it is all over?  Because the woman was a believer and the Lord had his eye on her.  Her stroke didn’t take him by surprise and he put plans in motion so that when she had the stroke she would not be alone.  If we had not been there visiting, she might not have been found for several hours and perhaps not until morning.  As it is, she is now home and is apparently doing quite well.  So were all those rearrangements of our plans just because the Lord was leading?  I am confident that is true.  It is nice to arrange so long as we let the Lord rearrange.

 

The week where nothing was going right, had everything going right and we just didn’t know it.  It is so gratifying to realize that we were where the Lord wanted us when he wanted us there.  Yes, the Lord does lead us in the paths of righteousness for His names sake (Psalm 23:3). He does go before His sheep and His sheep do follow Him.  We might find ourselves following with a wheel or two dragging at times, but knowing that He has lead and we have followed so that someone else could benefit is very encouraging.

 

Lord, my prayer is that I might not be frustrated when you decide to rearrange my plans today.

 

Meditation for the week of October 19, 2014

Everlasting Destruction

 

2 Thessalonians 1:9  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.

 

The two words “everlasting destruction” have been bothering me a great deal of late. In this letter to suffering Saints, Paul encourages them by telling them that their suffering at the hands of unbelievers is nothing compared to the suffering of unbelievers at the hand of God.  Christians may suffer for a while, the unbeliever’s destruction is eternal.   Everlasting destruction—meditate on that thought.  It should make the unbeliever think twice about whether they are willing to bet their eternal souls on what they want to believe instead of what God says.  It should motivate those of us who are saved to present the Gospel with both its good news for believers and its bad news for unbelievers in an urgent and faithful way.

 

Do Prophets Exist?

In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul says, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”  If a prophet is someone who gets new revelations from God today, most of us would argue that with the completion of the Scriptures that type of prophet is not available today.  However, if by a prophet we are simply saying that there are people who speak for God, then that kind of prophet is certainly active today.  You can tell that kind of prophet because they are likely to say, “Let’s see what the Bible says about that!”   When they preach, they preach from the Bible;  and they understand how to interpret the Bible when they preach from it.

 

If a man or woman is a prophet, their messages must be consistent with all the truth of Scripture.  That means that when we preach the Gospel, a prophet must preach that a person must be “born again” or “born from above.”   They must preach that we must be “saved.”  Salvation is deliverance from the penalty our sins deserve and the new birth is deliverance for a new life with Christ.  They are not two events but two blessings that occur when we receive the Lord by believing in or trusting Him. 

 

Many today want to preach the Gospel without opening the Bible.  That is a grave mistake since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  A prophet today is presenting truth that anyone could read for themselves. Since people today do not read the Bible, a prophet must tell them what the Bible says.  It is best  to do that by actually reading the passages from the Bible.  People tell me that reading from the Bible with a “seeker”  is “off-putting” and so they don’t do it.  We must remember that the Gospel is an offense to the unbeliever and no matter what we do we cannot make it popular or less offensive.  But the Holy Spirit can and will use the Word of God to convict and convert those who do hunger and thirst after righteousness.

 

A Prophet Must Preach all the Word of God

A good prophet warns with the bad news.  But a prophet also preaches good news.  Which is most important?  Actually both aspects of the Gospel are equally important;  but if we were going to be unbalanced, it might be better to leave out the good news than to leave out the bad news.  If a person is told that they have cancer, they will search for a cure even if none has been offered them.  If a person is convinced that their sin deserves “eternal destruction” they will start searching for a solution, and they will find it in the same Book that told them of their problem.  They will find out that Christ actually did die for the ungodly and for sinners.  See Romans 5:6-8. 

 

Today we have people professing to have a relationship with the Lord without believing in eternal conscious punishment.  They don’t believe in “everlasting destruction.”  They have never seen that they were lost.  Many believe that a general faith in a good God that they have “always” believed in is the same as trusting in the Lord as the One who died to put away their sins.  They have been taught how to live like a Christian without being told how to become a Christian. 

 

What Kind of Christians are We?

Are we the kind of Christians that have heard and believed the truth as preached by faithful prophets?  That truth may have made us uncomfortable, particularly for those who see themselves as good church-going people.  But the true prophet is just as ready to defend the truth about “everlasting destruction” as He is to defend the truth that “Christ died for the ungodly.”  We need to listen to that kind of prophet because “everlasting destruction” is forever.

 

Meditation for the week of October 26, 2014